Success isn’t a lucky, one-time, swing-for-the-fences, grand-slam home run windfall. Last week we talked about current definitions of success, benchmarking them against God’s definition of success, found in Jeremiah 9:23-24. I believe these verses are the time-tested definition of success, providing us the foundation for truly being successful in life.
So what could be some practical pointers that we could consider that would be important ingredients in the success journey? I’m listing three main things below that I consider to be significant levers to making success integral in our lives. At the end of each main thing, I’ve included a Bible verse for your consideration, as I’m hopeful that you’ll pray this verse for whatever point is the biggest struggle or shortfall for you.
Consistency (habits, routines, repetition): Whatever we set into daily habits is what will build into long-term excellence or failure depending on the direction of the habit. I think John Maxwell said this really well with these words, “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” So when we think about people who are successful in various activities, it’s almost inevitable that you see their success as the outcome of their habits and routines.
In a very transparent example, I’ve seen the power of habit and routine very poignantly demonstrated in my dental hygiene. Several years ago, my hygienist told me that I need to regularly floss. I explained that I did regularly floss, like every few weeks. He smiled graciously and explained that daily flossing was the habit he was suggesting and he added that this routine would make my dental visits quicker, less painful, and grating– literally. Furthermore, he said there could be an added bonus that I’d have fewer cavities – all from the little habit of daily flossing. So I took him up on the challenge and endeavored to floss daily as part of my evening bedtime routine. And I’m smiling as I write this because my hygienist was right! My dental visits are a lot better now.
Joshua 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
Practicing and Failing: When I was growing up, I took weekly piano lessons for several years. My teachers hounded me about daily practice, so they could hopefully see some progress at my weekly lessons. In my daily practice, I was supposed to get the mistakes worked out so that at my lessons and recitals, I could perform a piano piece with excellence. I didn’t like playing the piano, the daily practice thing was mostly going and very little touching, as it relates to “touch and go”. In contrast, I really liked playing basketball so practicing every day was something I looked forward to, both during the season and on my own in the off-season.
To this end, I wanted to learn how to do left-handed layups with grace and effectiveness. My first attempts at these lay-ups were horrible and I was really embarrassed at how bad I was with my left hand. But I kept trying day in and day out. It took some time, but after daily practice for some weeks, I grew a lot more comfortable and proficient with this skill. To start with, however, I had to get comfortable with a lot of failed attempts before I began seeing some progress and ultimately getting proficient. I’ve grown to consider “failing” a synonym for “practicing.”
Galatians 6:9, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
Learning and Improving: This is probably my favorite lever for success because I love to learn! I think learning is an adventure and there’s heaps of fun doing adventures! I’ve also found that when I keep a learner mindset, what I learn can bleed across various areas and responsibilities in my life. For example, when I was learning to snowboard, I quickly grew to appreciate that snowboarding is a dynamic experience with balance, by riding the front or back edge of the board rather than trying to ride on the center. I also learned to be aggressive with riding on my edges, particularly when the snow was really icy. I painfully learned that riding the middle of my board usually ended up smashing me into the mountain.
These lessons carried over into a lot of areas in my life, including my humanitarian work with Saving Moses, navigating family dynamics with teenagers in the house, juggling multiple responsibilities, and more! Balance is an essential life principle and it requires us to be intentional.
Proverbs 18:15, “Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.” NLT
So here’s to being successful. Let’s keep learning, practicing and growing constructive habits!